The Next Question

I want to give you all a decent amount of heads-up on this one. Josh is returning to DC for the 4th. I believe he gets to town in time for Tuesday Night next week.

The Next Question

Person 1: What do you do?
Person 2: I wash windows.
Person 1: Cool.

… and that’s where it ends. People have become accustom to not asking the next question.

(This rant brought to via a conversation with Ken. Also, there is a person on the list that actually asks the next question. I misinterpretted his ability once, and for that misinterpretation I am sorry. In order for this rant to work right, you need to shelve the traditional ideas of sellers and customers. Abstract your idea of what is selling and what is buying. You’ll read what I mean in a sec.)

Consider a situation where you are purchasing something large like a car or a house. I know, personally, that you reach a certain point and you stop asking question because a) you don’t understand subject let alone the answer you are undoubtably going to get and b) you just don’t want to appear stupid or difficult.

I watch my customers do this exact thing.

Customer: Can this solve my problem?
Ian: Yes.
Customer: Cool.

The obvious next question is… well, there are too many of them to list.

The customer goes through this dance where they don’t ask the next question, which, by the way, would completely undermine everthing the seller has said, and the seller doesn’t say more than he needs to. Everyone understands the rules of this game. Almost everyone plays by these rules.

So why do we all play this game? Why do we not ask the next question? Sure, you don’t want to look dumb. You don’t want to be a hard-ass. But. But, get real, more often than not, the next question is the question is crucial one; it is the question that has to be asked.

Maybe I am approaching this wrong. Maybe we don’t ask the next question because we simulataneously know that the answer will destroy the other person’s agrument and we don’t want to hear them say it.

Parishoner: Will every one go to Heaven when they die?
Priest: Mostly. Except for people who take their own lives. And sinners. Sinner don’t go to Heaven. In fact, both of the later parties will roast in Hell.
Parishoner: Cool.

From the seller’s-side, we treat the customer who asks the next question as the hard-ass, the mean pariah sent to bust you up, the asshole. Seller’s know that the next question will blow them out of the water. It’s a dance; we all sell each other on everything, and in this exact way: You don’t ask, and I won’t tell.

So, do we want to change this arrangement? I think we do. The informed customer certainly wants to ask the next question, and more importantly, they don’t give a crap about appearing stupid or assholent. We all need to get the information that we need, regardless of the social implications, and that is exactly what this dance is, a social one. What of the sellers? Is it in their best interest to change the dance? Tougher to say. I think they do. Last week I talked about the successfull salesperson who shares IPD. I believe willingness to answer the next question is another factor of a good salesperson. The really good ones answer the next question before it gets asked, and this way they can control the answer and its impact.

Customers be strong; ask the next question. Sellers be ready for the next question, accomodate it.

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